Checklist for Preparing for Marriage and Family

checklistThe other day I had a reader send me an email asking me about what she could do to prepare for marriage and family.  I thought that was a really good question.  While I don’t consider myself an expert on marriage preparation I have spent the last five years or so focusing on learning and preparing.  I decided to come up with a list of suggestions, a checklist if you will for preparing for marriage and family.  I hope you will find it helpful.

Checklist for Preparing for Marriage and Family

Learn how to:

  • Plan meals
  • Grocery shop
  • Cook and bake
  • Clean and sanitize well
  • Organize things and people
  • Do laundry (without shrinking clothes)
  • Iron
  • Manage your time
  • Make a schedule
  • Sew simple things
  • Mend torn items
  • Do crafts and DIY projects
  • Decorate a home
  • Show hospitality
  • Plant a garden
  • Can your own fruits and vegetables
  • Make freezer meals
  • Properly nourish a family
  • have a basic medical and medication knowledge
  • Research things for yourself
  • budget well
  • Bargain Hunt
  • Use coupons to their full potential
  • Thrift for quality clothes
Things to Know:
  • What the Bible says about the Proverbs 31 Woman
  • What the proper role of a woman is in the home
  • What the proper role of a woman is in the church
  • How to teach other women
  • How to teach children
  • How to discern the needs of others
  • How a man should properly treat his wife
  • How a wife should properly interact with her husband
  • What the Bible says about parenting and discipline
  • How to learn on your own
  • How to think for yourself
  • What your spiritual gifts are
  • What characterizes your personality
  • What your love language is
  • What your strengths are
  • What your weaknesses are
  • What you believe about biblical things and life in general and why
What to Study:
  • The whole of Scripture
  • Core doctrines
  • Examples of godly women from the Bible
  • Examples of godly women in your life
  • How men think and differ from women
  • Different personality types
  • Different Love languages
  • At least a couple of things you just find joy in

I didn’t create this list to say if you don’t do or study all of these things you will be a bad wife or mother it’s just a helpful list for those looking for ways to prepare.  For me it’s easier to have a written plan to shoot for.

For more ideas on how to use your season of singleness well and prepare for your future family take a look at my ebook “Single Girl“.

What have I missed?  Help me add to the list in the comment section.

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Reviving the Art of Elegance

Elegant: graceful, tasteful, sophisticated, classic, refined, gracious, dignified, poised, beautiful, lovely, charming, cultivated, polished, cultured

The words above describe the greatly sought after and valued qualities of the women of yesteryear.  Women went to great lengths to learn the art of elegance.  Some even pursued this by attending classes or “finishing schools” out of their desire to be a fine lady.

While I’m not suggesting that we go back in time and embrace all of the olden day cultural rituals I do fear that our society as a whole has lost the value and understanding of elegance.

Today many women prefer to pursue “sexy” over “elegant”.  And instead of beautifully dignified examples like Audrey Hepburn we are looking at roll models like “Lady” Gaga.  

In place of “elegance” women prefer words like: sexy, hot, seductive, alluring, sensual, provocative, tempting or tantalizing.

This culture shift worries me because those qualities mentioned do not promote a safe, healthy or biblical life style.

 

True elegance shows respect for yourself and insists on respect from others.

Seductiveness shows disrespect for yourself and encourages others to treat you the same way.

 

True elegance builds healthy confidence in your worth as God’s crowning creation.

Seductiveness builds a dependency on the conditional approval of others.

 

True elegance helps you enjoy being the feminine woman you were designed to be.

Seductiveness degrades you femininity and forces you to use it as a tool instead of a gift.

 

I’ve been doing some studying on the art of elegance and I’m convinced it is a beautiful trait too valuable to just be lost.

So I’ve decided to start writing a series of blog posts sharing some of the awesome things I’ve been learning.  I have not decided on all of the topics we will talk about yet so feel free to leave a comment with your suggestions or questions!

 

I hope you will join me on this journey to a more elegant life!

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What If You Haven’t Remained Pure?

apple2I was recently asked to write a post on the topic of purity.  As I pondered a way to approach this subject my thoughts went back to a chapter in Joshua, the book my father has been leading our family through.

Most of the time when Christians address the subject of purity we discuss the importance of staying pure, the commandments to stay pure, particular ways to help us remain pure or the consequences of impurity.

While these aspects of the purity talk are extremely important what about those who have’t remained sexually pure either by their own choice or because of the choices of others?  Is all lost for them?

Joshua 2 tells the story of Rahab and the two spies.  The two spies had been sent by Joshua to scout out the land of Jericho before the Israelites went in to claim it like the Lord had commanded.

The men needed a place to lodge for the night, a place where they would not be easily noticed.  They chose to stay over night in the house of the prostitute Rahab.  This would be a discrete hiding place as she no doubt had many strange men visit on a regular basis.

The story goes on to say that despite their secrecy spies had been noticed and the king of Jerico sent his men to arrest them.  Rahab courageously hid the spies on her roof and sent the king’s men on a wild goose chase.

After the men had left, Rahab went back on the the roof and explained to the Israelite spies why she had rescued them.  She had heard of the amazing miracles displayed by their God and it caused her to fear the Lord.

Rahab then let the men out through the window of her city wall home with a scarlet rope.  The men promised that if she left the cord tied outside of her window it would be a sign and she and her family would be spared when the people of Israel came to conquer the land.

Rahab and her family were spared.  We read in Hebrew 11 that Rahab became converted.  She trusted in God and her faith was counted as righteousness.

“By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace.”  -Hebrews 11:31 {NASB}

And that scarlet cord of blessing that hung from her window metaphorically continued on through the generations.  We read in Matthew that Rahab is mentioned as one of the women in the lineage of Jesus.  The red cord continued through her family line all the way to Jesus and ended at the crimson blood He shed on the cross.

Many times when we talk about the subject of purity we forget to include the grace that God offers to those who have committed sexual sin or have been sexually sinned against.

I want to encourage purity but I also want to encourage those who have not always been morally pure.  If you come to God by faith, the blood He shed on the cross will cover your sin.  Just as Rabah the prostitute was mightily used by God to rescue the Israelite spies and even was granted the incredible blessing of being included in the line on Christ, so can anyone who has sinned be forgiven and also be mightily used by God.

Strive for purity.  Glory in His grace.

pure hope

Some other lovely ladies are writing on the topic of purity.  

Please take a moment to read their testimonies and words of hope here.

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“Haven’t Even Kissed” Song Review

The other day I received an email from a reader suggesting that I take a look at a beautiful song from Moriah Peters’ almum “I Choose Jesus”.

She had read my post “Should You Kiss Before You’re Married?” and thought I might want to hear it.

I enjoyed the sound of the music and I LOVED that the lyrics promote saving your first kiss.  Rarely can you find a love song that encourages purity and patience.  I think this song is a real gem!

I really don’t know that much about Moriah but what I’ve heard I’ve been impressed with.  Her music is on the lighter side but it still contains some good notions and I absolutely love her voice and music style.  You can take a look at Moriah’s website here and watch her testimony here.

I hope you enjoy the song! 

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The Idol of Men {Video}

question in skyI’ve decided to start answering some of the reader questions from this form in video posts!  This is the first time I’ve done something like this so please bare with me!  I’m still learning this video thing and working on being comfortable in front of the camera.

I received a question asking how to overcome the struggle of making an idol out of a man or relationship.  In the video below I tried to give some suggestions as I have struggled in this area myself.

Recap:

When we make something an idol it is because we believe this thing will make us happy, happier than God will.

We need to replace this wrong thinking with right thinking.

As humans we ARE deficient and these deficiencies need to be filled with Christ and His character.  For every deficiency we have there is an atribute of Christ that can fill that need.  Do a study and learn about a part of God’s character that specifically combats the deficiency you are struggling with.

Practical tip:  When you take something bad out you must replace it with something else.  Replace your idol with more knowledge of Christ.   Keep busy creating goals for serving Him and others.  There is a big list of job and ministry ideas in the “Single Girl” ebook if you are interested.

God created women to desire a relationship with a man and in and of it’s self that desire is not bad, we just need to make sure our desire for Christ comes first.

Do you have any additional thoughts or suggestions?  Should I do another video?  Leave a comment!  Do you have a new question to ask?  Submit it to this form.

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Unredeemed

Life breaks.  Shatters.  Falls apart.  

Lay the pieces before the Lord and know it will not be unredeemed.

I sang this song in church last Sunday.  I love the words, so full of humanity yet pointing to the Redeemer.  May this be an encouragement to you in whatever struggles you may be facing today.

“The cruelest word, the coldest heart

The deepest wound, the endless dark

The lonely ache, the burning tears

The bitter nights, the wasted years

Life breaks and falls apart

But we know these are

Places where grace is soon to be so amazing

It may be unfulfilled, it may be unrestored

But when anything that’s shattered

Is laid before the LordJust watch and see,

it will not be unredeemed

For every choice that led to shame

And all the love that never came

For every vow that someone broke

And every life that gave up hope

We live in the shadow of the fall

But the cross says these are all

Places where grace is soon to be so amazing

It may be unfulfilled, it may be unrestored

But when anything that’s shattered

Is laid before the LordJust watch and see,

it will not be unredeemed

Oh, He will wipe every tear

It will not be, be unredeemed

Places where grace is soon to be so amazing

It may be unfulfilled, it may be unrestored

But you never know the miracle the Father has in store

Just watch and see, it will not be

Just watch and see, it will not be unredeemed”

-Selah

The “What-Ifs” of Not Going to College

Here we go with the next question from the Q&A form!
Question:
Your post “How To Handle Negative Comments About Being a Stay-At-Home Daughter” was very encouraging to me as a new stay at home daughter. I struggle with the “what-if” questions from family and friends- what if your husband or father dies, what if your husband looses his job, what if you turn 40 and want a career but don’t have a degree, etc. etc. I try to share with them the complete trust I have in the Lord. Do you have any biblical evidence or analogies that I can use to ease people’s fears?
Answer:
This type of “what-if” question regarding being a stay-at-home daughter or not going to college seems to be fairly common.
I think the key is having the confidence we talked about in this post, being fully convinced in your mind that God has call you to a particular life style at this particular time.  If you know this is what God is calling you to do today you can trust Him for tomorrow.

 

Try pointing yourself and others to God’s character when they struggle with the “what-if” concerns.  I like to focus on God’s love, wisdom and sovereignty.  God loves us with a strong, unchanging love so he intends good for us, He is also all wise so He knows what is good for us and He is completely sovereign so He is able to do what is good for us.  Trust Him in what He has called you to do today and know that no matter what lies ahead we can rest in His unchanging character for tomorrow.

 

Most of the time these kinds of “what-if” conversations come from a root of fear.  I know because I ask myself these “what-if” questions on a semi regular basis.  It’s easy to have doubts and wonder if God is really going to take care of me but when I go back to His promises and character, I know He will.  Help ease the fear of others by having a good knowledge of God’s sovereignty and being able to express this understanding clearly to others.

 

Here are a couple of older posts that might be helpful:
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?”
-Romans 8 {NASB}

 

While I believe we should fully rely on God’s sovereignty I don’t think it’s wrong to prepare for unforeseen tragedies. 

 

If you look at the Proverbs 31 woman we can see that she was quite the entrepreneur… buying fields, selling sashes, you name it!  

If you don’t feel God calling you to pursue a college education or a traditional job why not consider starting your own home based business.  Having the knowledge and ability to make money on your own time can be very beneficial now and could also be a blessing in a marriage.  Learning these types of things could also be helpful if you should run into a difficulty, later on, where you need to be making money.

 

If you have the time I recommend learning a variety of useful skills that could bless your future family and could also become a source of income if the need arises.  

 

In my ebook “Single Girl” (only $4.95) I have a good sized list of ideas for jobs and miniseries single women could consider trying.

 

So, to recap I would say study out the sovereignty of God and be able to articulate what you’ve learned so you can calm the fears of those with the “what if” concerns.  Use wisdom and pray about possibly learning some useful, money making skills in case you want/need to use them later on down the road.

 

Do you have any other ideas or suggestion?  If you were asked this question what would you say?  Tell us in the comments!

 

Are You Making Stay-At-Home Daughterhood Attractive To Your Girls?

On this blog I usually aim my speaking to single women and fellow stay-at-home daughters but today I want to talk to parents of girls.

Many of the readers on this blog who are married with children have expressed the desire for their daughters to live at home and be “stay-at-home daughters” until they marry.

I’ve got a question for you.  If you want your daughters to live at home are you making this an attractive option for them?  When a young woman becomes an adult there are many options offered to her.  What are you doing to make being a stay-at-home daughter an appealing choice?

If you want your girls to be stay-at-home daughters here are my recommendations for you, from a single woman’s prospective:

 

Let Her Choose To Remain Under Your Authority

If you feel the Lord is calling your adult daughter to remain at home express your desires for this to your daughter and encourage her in this direction but allow her to make the final choice.  If she does not “own” the choice for herself this will most likely cause contention in your family.  If your daughter feels forced to live at home  and submit to your authority chances are she will struggle with bitterness and look for a way out.  If she makes the choice to live at home and follow your leadership she will more likely enjoy the opportunity and there will be more unity and closeness within the family.  In our family I have a set of responsibilities that are expected of me but I still have the ability to plan my own day and make many choices on my own.

Give Her Freedom To Be an Adult

When your daughter makes the transition from childhood to adulthood your parent-child relationship MUST change.  You cannot continue to treat her as a child.  You must give her the freedom to be an adult.  This transition isn’t immediate the day she turns 18 or 21 but a gradual changing from ultimate parental authority to counselor, friend and her chosen authority.  If she is living in your house or you are providing for her financially that certainly calls for a type of authority but be careful not to take that too far and turn it into a controlling, micromanaging relationship.  It is much more pleasant for her to choose to submit to your authority because you provide good counsel and protection than for you to force her to conform to all your wishes.  Try to cultivate a relationship where she is free to make some choices on her own but wants to ask for your input and direction.

Cultivate a Good Relationship

Do you have a good relationship with your daughter?  Does she count you as beloved friends?  Your daughter will be much more likely to want to live in your home if you share a good friendship-relationship.  Be pleasant, be fun, be encouraging and supportive of her.  Make it known that she is very loved and valued.

Respect and Appreciation Her

Having your daughter live at home with you can be a special blessing and benefit.  Having the added help and companionship can be a great joy.  Let you daughter know that you really do appreciate her and respect her as a person.  Make it clear that she is not a burden but rather a valuable asset to you and your family and you don’t take that for granted.

Be Protectors and Providers for Her

Make sure your daughter knows that when she chooses to remain under your authority you will give her the best protection you possibly can.  Don’t cross the line of being overly protective but be appropriately involved in her physical and emotional safety.  Provide for her needs in whatever ways this is possible and right for your family.  Consider making her choice to live at home a very attractive option from a finance standpoint.

Help Her Find a Husband

Your goal in having your daughter live at home should not be to keep her there indefinitely it should be a transition place for her until she gets married or God calls her somewhere else.  You daughter most likely has great desires to meet a godly man, marry him and start raising a family of their own.  This is natural and good.  These are desires God put in her.  Make your home a safe place for her to talk about any possible interests she may have in a young man.  Make your relationship one where you are working together to find the right man.  Be willing to go out of your comfort zone to get to know young men and help her find the right one.  Let her know you are on the same team, you want her to get married and you are willing and happy to help her through this process.

Our family is not perfect but my parents made being a stay-at-home daughter look very attractive by maintaining these six things in our home and relationship.  If you hope to have your daughters live at home I would highly suggest creating this type of environment in your home.

One last thing, not every young woman can or should be a stay-at-home daughter.  Above all else submit your desires to the Lord.  He has a good plan for you daughter and following His will for her life will always be the best option.

Parents, how do you make being a stay-at-home daughter look attractive?  Single women what are some things that make (or would make) being a SAHD more appealing?

FREE “Single Girl” Bible Study Guide!!!

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One topic mentioned in “Single Girl” is mentoring.  Mentoring and being mentored is such a valuable asset to a Christian’s life!

“The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”  -Titus 2:3-5

We all need to be learning from those who are a little farther ahead of us, spiritually and practically.  We also need to be pouring into the lives of those who are younger and sharing with them what the Lord has been teaching us.

The other day the Lord planted a desire in my heart to help encourage these types of mentoring relationships by creating a Mentor Group Guide to go along with “Single Girl”!

The Mentor Group Guide can be used as a resource to help start a mentoring relationship or lead a Bible study group.

The guide is meant to be used alongside the “Single Girl” ebook and includes a list of thought provoking questions, Scripture verses and weekly challenges to help women grow fuller and deeper spiritually and practically.  It also leaves room for those who are mentoring to share their life experiences and wisdom with the younger women they are leading.

Here are a few ideas of how you could use the Mentor Group Guide:

  • To kick off a new Church Bible study group
  • For existing Church Bible study groups
  • Personal one on one mentoring relationships
  • Summer menu classes held by your Church
  • Mother-daughter Bible study time
  • In home Bible studies- older, married women teaching younger women
  • In home Bible studies- College aged women leading younger girls

 

I have a great desire to see Titus 2 mentoring expand and grow.  This is a big reason why I am offering this study guide to you completely FREE!  I want the “Single Girl” ebook and Mentor Group Guide to be as affordable as possible so anyone can start or join a mentoring group!

Download as many copies as you’d like!  Feel free to share this with Sunday School teachers and Bible study leaders so they can take a look.  Encourage girls in your group study to download a copy so they can look over the questions before your group time starts.

 

 Buy the “Single Girl” ebook now

only $4.95!

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(Instant PDF version)

Also available on Kindle and Nook!  

 

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How to Practice Hospitality as a Single Woman


In the New Testament the word “hospitality” is mentioned about four different times.

“Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” -1 Peter 4:9 

“Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” -Romans 12:13

We can see hospitality is something important for a believer to be practicing.  But what exactly is hospitality and how can a single woman practice being hospitable?

I did a little research and found out that the greek word for hospitality is “Philonexia”.

“Philonexia” can be broken into two parts:

  • philo = love
  • xenia = strangers

So a basic definition of hospitality would be the showing of love to strangers!  The way we show love to guest in our home or people around us will vary a little bit from family to family or culture to culture but our motives should be the same, to make others feel loved and cared for.  The goal of hospitality doesn’t need to be to putting on an impressive show or presenting an elaborate meal.  Those things are nice but the heart of real hospitality is to make the people we are serving feel valued and loved.

There are traditional ways we do this in our culture such as making a big meal and providing entertainment but these aren’t always practical for a single woman.

 

Here are some practical tips for single girls who want to be hospitable:

Focus on People not Possessions
Let the focus of your entertainment be interacting with people instead of relying on possessions to entertain you.

Focus on Relationships not Regimen 
Don’t stress yourself out trying to adhere to a traditional (often expensive) regimen.  Hospitality is more than a intricately set table and fancy meal.  Let your priority be building relationships and making a person feel comfortable and cared for.

Focus on Quality not Quantity
My favorite hospitality memories weren’t made over a table full of food and eight different drink selections.  Instead they were made over some simple lemonade, yummy cookies and lots of laughter.

 

6 Cheap & Simple Hospitality Ideas:

1.)  Simple Snacks
A couple of pizzas, a bag of chips and a bottle of Coke can go a long way and is always popular with the guys in a group.

2.)  Ice Cream Social 
You provide the ice cream and a drink and ask everyone to bring their favorite topping!  This is a great Sunday night after church activity!

3.)  Tea Party 
Consider throwing a simple afternoon tea party for your girl friends.  All you need is tea and a couple of dainty desserts and mini sandwiches.

4.)  Brunch Yogurt Bar
Try a healthy, late morning brunch.  You provide the coffee, vanilla yogurt and cinnamon rolls.  They bring their favorite fruit, granola or chocolate chip topping.

5.)  Cookie Exchange
You provide the milk and a couple batches of your best cookies.  Ask everyone else to bring two dozen cookies to share and exchange at the end!

6.)  Potluck
Make a hearty meal like sloppy joes or pulled pork sandwiches and ask everyone else to bring a drink, side or dessert.

 

Get creative!  Hospitality doesn’t have to be an expensive, elaborate ordeal.  The best memories are usually made over simple food and lots of laughter!

What are your favorite hospitality tips and ideas?

 

 

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